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It's certainly not too early to start thinking about travel to next year's Winter Olympics, which take over Vancouver in February 2010. Just make sure you know who you're buying tickets from.
Olympic organizers recently filed suit in a Canadian court seeking to stop the website RoadTrips.com from reselling tickets to the Winter Games. A similar suit earlier this year tried to stop Coast2Coast Tickets from doing the same thing. The groups buy up event tickets and then sell them as part of larger Olympics travel packages, a practice organizers are seeking to crack down on.
While these brokers claim their sales are legit, we'd say the safest bet is to stick to official tix. The next phase of event tickets go on sale June 6 via the Olympics website.
Chicago called and it wants you to get more active. Or at least that's the message we're getting from the Chicago Office of Tourism's new site Explore Chicago, a dynamic (at least in name) change from its former web-home ChooseChicago.com.
ExploreChicago.org shares a background color and a similar slow rotation of chipper photos with its predecessor, but it gives more on-page real estate to newsy items like hotel deals and anything involving Barack Obama. (Not surprising -- banners with the Shepard Fairey Obama design still carpeted downtown when we were there a few weeks ago.)
We're liking the event search on the front page and the "Travel Tools" pull-down menu, although we're skeptical about this Insider Profile -- would mild-mannered Lin really join the drunken crowds at The Wiener's Circle? [NSFW!]
We're guessing the website enhancements could be tied to the Windy City's bid for the 2016 Summer Games as it faces off against 2012 finalist Madrid, 1964 host Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, which could become the first South American city to host. Chicago won't learn its fate till October, when the IOC meets in Copenhagen, but it's never too early to put on that welcoming face.
· Wide-Eyed Travel: The Death-Defying Chicago Air and Water Show [Jaunted]
· Sorry Chicago: Virgin America Is Headed To Boston [Jaunted]
· Chicago Tourism coverage [Jaunted]
To try to alleviate the pollution, the city government has reinstated restrictions on driving. Cars will only be allowed on the roads six days a week, with license plate numbers deciding who gets to drive when. Officials say the plan will keep 800,000 private vehicles off the capital's clogged streets every day.
The scheme, which began today, will be in place until at least April, and if pollution continues to worsen, the government says it may order as many as half of the city's 3.4 million cars off the road daily.
The Olympics paid off in more ways than one for China. Sure, the country got awesome new hotels, venues and infrastructure built, but now, post-games, the country's also experiencing a boom in tourism. The New York Times reports that travelers want to experience for themselves what their favorite Olympians did--and tour groups are seeing bookings jump as much as 20 percent.
After a miscue in August, the Phelpstival is a go, and it starts with a "Parade of Gold" at 3 pm through Towson, Maryland, the suburb that the swimmer calls home. At 7 pm, a "Star-Spangled Salute" will be held at Fort McHenry.
One assumes the party won't stop just because it's getting late. While we can't guarantee a Phelps appearance, Max's Taphouse does have the biggest selection of beer in the city.
Now that the Olympics are over, it's time for Baltimore to cash in on Michael Phelps' most recent gold medals. The Phelpstival--that we heard about last week--will start at 9 am on September 11 in the suburb of Towson, Maryland.
The party kicks off at Phelps' high school, where Cedar Avenue will be renamed in his honor. A parade will then march to the courthouse where the world record holder will receive a key to Baltimore County.
Here's hoping the Baltimore tourism board doesn't make him do a lap in a hotel pool.
Update: Don't believe everything you read at Baltimore.org! Turns out the tourism board posted info about 2004's Phelpstival on its official website before hyping the news on Twitter. Only later did officials realize that they'd made a mistake. When the real Phelpstival is announced, we'll let you know--as long as the tourism peeps give us the correct date!
Who doesn't want to siphon off a bit of that Michael Phelps glory these days? Baltimore, the record-smashing swimmer's hometown, is hoping to milk his eight-medal Olympics for as much tourism as the city can stand. The Baltimore Area CVA has even set up a specific URL for Phelps phanatics: Baltimore.org/phelps.
So far, the page is pretty much blank, with just a vague promise of more to come:
Check back to Baltimore.org for information on Phelps' Welcome Home Celebration.
Hopefully the party doesn't involve any lusty fans getting ill-advised tattoos!
· Olympic Travel: Which Stars Are Watching the Games? [Jaunted]
· Olympics coverage [Jaunted]
The world simultaneously giggled and rolled its eyes when the Guardian newspaper released a photo gallery of President Bush up to his usual hijinks at the 2008 Summer Olympics with wife Laura and daughter Barbara. But he's not the only non-competing celebrity to be hanging out in the host city, hoping to bump into Michael Phelps.
Blogger Beijing Boyce has been collecting celeb sightings of people like Bill and Melinda Gates on the Olympic green, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling at (where else?) the baseball stadium, and Jared Leto just about anywhere.
David Hasselhoff and John Mayer are rolling into town to celebrate the last leg of the Gumball 3000.
But the best celebrity leak so far involves a bunch of civilians who are being pressed into action to represent their country at the last minute. No, not as an ad hoc water polo team, but at the closing ceremonies Led Zeppelin will perform with Leona Lewis and David Beckham will speak for the next summer Olympics, in London in 2012. Reportedly, they will all have a red double-decker bus for a platform, which makes us both excited and nervous.
· LOL Bush: The president at the Olympics [Guardian.co.uk]
· Beijing Olympics Celebrity Watch [Beijing Boyce]
· Gumball Rally To Arrive in Beijing Tomorrow [2008 Games Beijing]
· Beckham to appear at closing ceremony [BBC]
· Celeb Travel coverage [Jaunted]
[LOLBush: the Guardian]
Hotels / HotelChatter / Olympics / → All Tags
Our sis site HotelChatter does a bang-up job of covering the latest news and trends in the hotel world. Check in and stay awhile.
· The authorities in Beijing didn't close Hotel G: It's just not open yet.
· And the InterContinental Beijing may be the hottest hangout in town.
· New York's Ace Hotel promises to be like "staying in a hip friend's apartment."
· And the ultimate haunted hotel, pictured, will soon open in Louisville.
If you've never been to an American embassy, we're here to tell you that it's not actually that much fun. (Well, maybe it's fun if you're invited to a party, but that's not why we stopped by!) Still, the new diplomatic mission in Beijing looks good enough to compete with The Bird's Nest and The Watercube.
The Skidmore, Owings & Merrill building opened the same day as the games, August 8, and is second in size only to the US embassy in Baghdad. The eight-floor facility covers 10 acres and cost $434 million to build. It's just outside Beijing's Third Ring Road.
Inside, you'll find a rich collection of contemporary art, including pieces from Louise Bourgeois, Martin Puryear, Maya Lin, Cai Guo-Qiang and Robert Rauschenberg. Because the embassy had a budget of "only" $800,000, many of the works were either donated or sold way below cost to the State Department. One exception is Jeff Koons' "Tulips" which is on a 10-year loan from the artist.
A friend of Jaunted is on-hand for the Olympics, and she'll be doing her best to keep us posted on what it's really like for a spectator in China. Here's her report from August 13:
My family and I started the day off early with a visit to the Great Wall of China. We thought we were getting a head start arriving at 8:45 am, as we had gone to the Great Wall at Mutianyu, which is usually less crowded and more scenic than the Great Wall at Badaling. But instead, we found an unusually big crowd--due to the Badaling area being closed for an Olympic cycling race on the roads nearby.
A friend of Jaunted is on-hand for the Olympics, and she'll be doing her best to keep us posted on what it's really like for a spectator in China. Here's her latest report:
It's my family's first full day in Beijing, and it's not as smoggy or hazy as we had expected. I heard that the conditions were so hot and humid that quite a few cyclists in the race on Sunday pulled out because of the tough conditions. Rain on Sunday evening might have helped clear the air over yesterday and today.
I thought I would be seeing this intense layer of smog, however, it's just hazy. Instead of checking out the Olympic events, we toured the city. We have a terrific private guide, who makes navigating the city so much more manageable!